A Live Show With No Amps?

I just saw a neat video posted by MusFormation.com.  This band, New Load, uses a laptop and Pro Tools to replace heavy gear, have complete control over their sound, and always have great sounding live recordings.  Check out this video:

Wow, I’m tempted by this setup because my 8×10 Ampeg cab is god awful heavy.  But also, I wouldn’t have to rent a UHaul trailer for gear when going on tour.

On the other hand, I have the worst luck with technology.  I’m on my second Presonus Firestudio, and now it’s acting up.  I can just see someone throwing a drink and destroying my expensive laptop.

Any else try anything like this?

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8 Responses to A Live Show With No Amps?

  1. thekai says:

    We have a laptop for routing all our electronics and drum triggers to two DIs. There is the fear about the laptop dying, but it’s a cheap one running WinXP so it’s paid for itself over time. It was very undependable at first, but once we got it in a stable equilibrium we never ever touched it again and things have gone well.

    If you do go all electronic, still be prepared for venues with no sound system–or with just enough to handle vox only. And make sure to keep your main outs at a minimum. We often run into situations where the sound guy can barely handle 2 DIs.

  2. I agree. Definitely not something to do with a house show or small bar. And my history with electronics is pure crap. Things just break around me for no good reason. (Which is ironic since I’m a software engineer.) But it’d be great to experiment with.

    The dream of not having to lug giant stacks around is so tempting. However, I like ther “real” sound of cabs. It would take a ton of convincing that a Pro Tools emulated effects can sound better than an SVT tube amp running through an 8×10 cab.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard of musicians that only bring their heads to the show and just DI in. That would only work with a good sound system, and a good sound person that actually listens to the band.

    haha! I used to bi-amp my bass, and I thought I was the awsomest thing to hit the planet. Until every show, the sound person was thoroughly confused and refused to put two microphones on my cab. I would even tell them the exact frequency ranges I split along, and they would just seem a bit pissed. In my mind I thought, “Dude, it’s just one more mic. This is my band’s sound, so why be all weird?” Then I realized not all sound people are actually professionally trained. They just wing it.

  3. Seth Warren says:

    My live show consists of myself, my keyboard and a laptop playing the rhythm section of my songs. Since I run everything in mono, I only need two DI boxes in addition to a vocal mic. This hasn’t been a problem for venues with an in-house system and I have my own PA for venues without (even if I’m not using my own PA, I always pack my “emergency tech bucket” which has spare mics, cables, DI boxes, etc. – always go into battle with gear to spare). Never had a problem with either set up or anyone complaining about the lack of amps or whatnot. I will note that sound checks are, in my experience, easier when I’m just running my own PA; likely because I know my own mix and can set the levels in my sleep, accounting for room dynamics.

    • You guys are convincing me more and more. And I’m 100% with you on having a ton of backup gear. I’m super paranoid at live shows because everything that can go wrong, will. I even carry toothpics in case my strap peg comes out. (Actually happened during a show.)

      I think I’ll try this out. I have a Sans Amp preamp for my bass. But if I have to lug around PA systems, I’ll just stick with my stack.

      Actually, I have some friends at a venue. They might let me experiment with this when there isn’t a show going on….

  4. Moving JMH’s comment to this post.

    Not as complex or with a laptop, but I’ve been running my Guitar into my Multi-Effects pedal into a Direct Box then straight into the soundboard for the last year and a half or so. Every body just has their own, personal mixed floor monitor, except for the bass player, he just uses his Head/Sub for a monitor just so he can hear himself. It has worked well. I like not having to lug my amp around and set it up. In fact, I actually like the sound better now. I still use an amp at home to practice and it almost sounds like overkill on a lot of effects because its like the effects already have that “amp” sound built in, then if you run it through an amp, its like your getting double of that ‘valve’ sound. But, I don’t think I’d want the computer contolling the effects automatically at different points in the song through midi. Doesn’t leave room for much spontinaety if you decide to play the chorus one more time or something. But I know that people like Blake Lewis (pre- american idol) and another band I can’t remember, was using Ableton Live with a laptop years ago. -or playing directly out of the pod into the sound system. Both are kinda just more like a DJ setup.

    • God, that sounds so heavenly. I’ve just been in too many situations where we couldn’t get the monitor mix how we wanted. Or there just weren’t enough monitors on stage, and then the drummer couldn’t hear my bass.

      It sounds like a worthwhile experiment, though. If I try it, I’ll still have my cabinet waiting in the car!

      Guess I’m a bit paranoid that somehow my laptop gets on the internet, and suddenly I’m getting “dings” from an instant messenger during a performance! 😀

  5. I have used a laptop many times before…
    Usually I’ll have a kool kickin’ techno track playing like some Saeed Younan…and they I’ll wail my guitar along with it…

    Very crazy….
    When I jam some place and it’z all DJ’s and I start doing Psy-trance with guitar…the other DJ’s very often don’t know how to handle it.

    I’ve even had my guitar chord sliced with a knife once…lol

    However….there were many more patch chords!

    Anyway…yes….I’ve use laptops with guitar…


    The Alien Bluez Dude

    • Hahaha! You’re getting someone’s attention if your shit gets slashed!

      I have Ableton Live, but I never really used it. I was a big Reason/Live fan, but it didnt’ gel with the live punk I was doing. I really want to revisit it.

      I think I’ll get out there and try to get my cord slashed, too! Cheers!

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